Looking at the latest Drought Monitor report, nearly every area to the west of the Continental Divide is in varying stages of drought, whereas the eastern regions are considerably wetter. Three states in particular are bearing the brunt of the drought:
Unsurprisingly, another week left California high and dry. Drought conditions were unchanged from last week’s report, with 37 million residents living in drought. On Wednesday, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new $150 million partnership to support water quality and quantity in the state. Read more here.
Though California notably takes precedence in the news outlets, the state to the north - Oregon - is waging its own battle against drought. More than 80 percent of Oregon is in severe or worse drought, compared to 46 percent reported one year ago.
Conditions in Oregon may pale in comparison to California, but conditions remain dire.
Farmers, especially those in the southeastern portions of the state, are leaving more land fallow in response to the dry conditions, according to Oregon Public Radio in a report here. Others have started irrigation season earlier than usual while some are moving their higher-value crops closer to water sources. However, as Jim Johnson, land use and water planning coordinator for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, explained in the interview, some of these short-term agricultural adaptations to drought have potential long-term consequences for soil health and pest control.
Nevada is also dealing with drought conditions. More than three-quarters of the state is in severe or worse drought, affecting 24 percent of the population.
Unfortunately, these dry states will likely remain in intense levels of drought through the beginning of the fall. The Seasonal Drought Outlook, updated last Thursday, showed no signs of improved for most of the West.